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Vietnam
Official Name:

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Last Updated: October 28, 2016

Embassy Messages

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Hanoi

170 Ngoc Khanh
Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Vietnam

  • Telephone +(84) (24) 3850-5000
  • Emergency After-Hours Telephone +(84) (24) 3850-5000 or (04) 3850-5000/3850-5105
  • Fax +(84) (24) 3850-5010
  • Email acshanoi@state.gov
  • U.S. Embassy Hanoi

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Six Months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One page required for entry stamp  

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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No. However, Vietnamese Dong in excess of VND 150,000,000 or foreign currency in excess of 5,000 U.S. dollars or equivalent must be declared. 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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No. However, Vietnamese Dong in excess of VND 150,000,000 or foreign currency in excess of 5,000 U.S. dollars or equivalent must be declared. 

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U.S. Embassy Hanoi - Consular Annex
170 Ngoc Khanh
Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Vietnam

Telephone: +(84) (24) 3850-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(84) (24) 3850-5000 or (04) 3850-5000/3850-5105
Fax: +(84) (24) 3850-5010

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City
4 Le Duan, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Telephone:
+(84) (8) 3520-4200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(84) (8) 3520-4200
Fax: +(84) (8) 3520-4244
Inquiries

Tourist facilities can be basic in rural areas but are increasingly well established in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and some beach and mountain resorts.  Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Vietnam for additional information on U.S. - Vietnam relations.

Entry Requirements: You must have a valid passport and a visa (or pre-approval for a visa on arrival) to enter Vietnam.  Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay and you must have at least one blank visa page.  Visit the Embassy of Vietnam website for the most current information. If you arrive in Vietnam without an appropriate visa or pre-approval for a visa on arrival, you will be denied entry.

Visas: When you apply for your visa to enter Vietnam, be sure to request the visa category that corresponds to your purpose of travel.  Please refer to Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for information detailing Visa Categories and Descriptions. If you plan to work in Vietnam, you must obtain a work permit before applying for your visa.  If you change the purpose of your visit after you have received your visa, you must obtain a new visa outside of Vietnam appropriate for your new activities before beginning those activities.  Please consult the Embassy of Vietnam website for more information. 

If you plan to travel from Vietnam to Laos by land, you should request that an adhesive visa be affixed to your passport instead of a detachable one.  Lao immigration officials require proof that travelers have departed Vietnam, something that can only be shown with an adhesive visa.  Vietnamese officials remove detachable visas from passports when travelers depart Vietnam, leaving travelers with no proof of their Vietnam departure.  This situation can result in Lao officials requiring travelers to return to Vietnam.

If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Vietnam, you will need both a replacement passport and a replacement Vietnamese visa in order to arrive AND depart Vietnam.  The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City can usually issue you a limited validity replacement passport in as little as one business day for emergency purposes; however, the Vietnamese government requires three to five working days to issue a replacement visa. The U.S. Embassy and the Consulate General cannot expedite the replacement of your Vietnamese visa. 

In February 2017, Vietnam launched a pilot e-visa program for citizens of 40 countries, including the United States.  The program uses an online application process to issue 30-day, one-entry visas for $25, payable via bank transfer.  E-visa holders may enter and exit Vietnam through 28 designated international border gates, including all international airports.  The pilot program will continue through January 31, 2019 subject to review and extension.  The Vietnamese e-visa instructions and application are available online. The correct Vietnamese government websites for e-visas are https://www.immigration.gov.vn/ and https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn

Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival: All U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter Vietnam.  The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to arrange for pre-approval for a “visa on arrival” at the airport.  However, some American citizens have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Embassy of Vietnam website has warnings about websites suspected of fraud.  The Government of Vietnam and the U.S. Department of State recommend that travelers obtain a visa directly from an Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam prior to arrival. 

Certificate of Visa Exemption: Vietnamese nationals residing abroad indefinitely, their spouses, and children may apply for a certificate of Visa Exemption.  The certificate has a maximum validity of five years, during which time the holder can enter Vietnam and stay for up to six months without applying for a visa.  More information can be found on the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Vietnam.  Immunization information for travelers can be found on the Centers for Disease and Control’s website.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

 

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens overseas always maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness while traveling internationally.  Please visit travel.state.gov for up to date information.

Messages regarding weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.

Small-scale, peaceful protests occasionally occur in Vietnam’s major cities, but large-scale demonstrations are rare. You should avoid large gatherings, as they can become violent with little or no warning. 

The Government of Vietnam may not allow or authorize travel to certain areas of the country that are deemed sensitive.  Check with local authorities before visiting border areas to see if you need to obtain a travel permit issued by local authorities.  U.S. citizens have been detained after traveling in areas close to the Vietnamese borders with China, Cambodia, and Laos.  These areas are not always marked, and there are no warnings about prohibited travel. 

Safety standards in Vietnam are not at the same level as those in the United States and vary greatly from company to company and province to province.  This is especially true in regards to the applicable fire code.  Travelers should be aware that many buildings, including hotels, shops and restaurants, have limited or no safety equipment or emergency exits. Ground and water transportation also lack safety regulations. 

To stay connected:

Crime:

Pick-pocketing and other petty crimes occur regularly, especially in crowded areas and tourist locations.  In Ho Chi Minh City, there is typically a rise in petty crime during the Christmas and Tet holiday season, including during the day and in well-lit areas. Motorcyclists are known to snatch bags, cameras, cell phones, and other valuables from pedestrians or passengers riding in "cyclos" (pedicabs) or on the back of motorcycles, sometimes using a sharp weapon such as a knive to cut a bag strap. Although violent crimes such as armed robbery are still relatively rare in Vietnam, perpetrators have grown increasingly bold and may carry a weapon. If you are targeted by thieves, do not resist and report the incident immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. Sexual assaults also occur, but can be avoided by taking basic security precautions, such as not walking alone in poorly lit areas.

Drink and food spiking has been reported at some establishments in Vietnam’s major cities, usually late at night.  Do not leave drinks or food unattended, as you may be drugged and robbed. 

Some U.S. citizens have reported threats of death or physical injury related to personal business disputes.  You should report such threats to local authorities.

Keep your passport and other important valuables in your hotel in a safe or another secured location at all times and carry both photo and digital copies of your passport.  You should immediately report the loss or theft of your U.S. passport to the local police and the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General.  You must obtain a police report from the local police office in order to apply for a replacement passport and a Vietnamese exit visa.  You must report to the police in the location your passport was lost or stolen or the Vietnamese may not issue a police report.

Transportation/tours: Exercise caution in choosing ground transportation upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.  Some travelers have reported being robbed by drivers who greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing the traveler's name.  If you are expecting to be picked up, ask the company for the driver’s name, phone number, and license plate number before you travel.  Use only established airport taxi companies or vehicles provided by hotels.  You should be familiar with the basics of the hotel you have chosen, such as address and neighboring landmarks. You should try to write down the name of the taxi company, plate number, and any other identifying information in any incident so that it can be reported to the local authorities.

We strongly discourage the use of motorcycle taxis (known as “xe oms”).  Motorcycle taxis are unregulated and unsafe, and the helmets provided to riders offer little to no protection against injury in the case of an accident.

Drugs: Recreational drugs available in Vietnam can be extremely dangerous and can result in death.    Drugs sold in Vietnam may be fake, synthetic, or laced with toxic ingredients undetectable to the buyer.  You should also avoid purchasing liquor from street vendors, as the authenticity of the contents cannot be assured.

Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Vietnam’s local equivalent of an emergency line is 113.  Local police will issue a report of a crime, but generally will only initiate investigations for crimes they determine serious, which do not always equate with U.S. standards.  Investigations can take several months to complete.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General can:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. 

Some travelers have reportedly been victims of sexual assault while traveling in Vietnam. Victims of sexual assault should be aware that services for victims, including police responsiveness to reports, are generally inadequate by Western standards. Nonetheless, victims of sexual assault should immediately report incidents to local police and seek appropriate medical treatment. Victims should also report these incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

Medical facilities in Vietnam, including emergency response services, frequently do not meet international standards and may lack medicine and supplies: 

  • Medical personnel generally speak little or no English. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.  You may obtain lists of local English-speaking physicians from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City or on our website.
  • International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can provide treat minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems often require medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore. 
  • Although you can purchase many prescription and non-prescription medications at pharmacies, some common U.S. medications may not be available.  You should bring adequate supplies of medications for the duration of your stay in Vietnam, and ensure with the Ministry of Health that the medicine you need is allowed to enter Vietnam.  You should carry copy of your prescription if carrying medicine in a travel case or container.  You can also e-mail the Health Ministry with further questions.
  • We strongly recommend travelers purchase medical evacuation insurance before visiting Vietnam. 
  • Travelers to Vietnam are at risk of the following diseases: Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Zika, Avian Influenza (H5N1), and HIV.  You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website.  
  • Air pollution is also a significant problem in Vietnam’s major cities, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you.  Air quality in Hanoi can be tracked on the U.S. Embassy website

Criminal Penalties:  Persons violating Vietnamese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vietnam are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, or even the death penalty.  In Vietnam, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have proper ID, such as a passport or a copy of your visa.  In Vietnam, driving under the influence of alcohol could lead to immediate imprisonment.  If you break local laws in Vietnam, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. 

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but are still illegal in the United States.  You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under the host country’s laws.  Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well. 

Arrest Notification in Vietnam: To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas and continue to make the  request until you are seen by a U.S. official.   Notification by the Vietnamese authorities to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General and the granting of access by the Vietnamese authorities for a Consular Officer to visit detained U.S. citizens has historically experienced delays. 

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is accepted by the Vietnamese government in some, but not all circumstances.  As of July 1, 2009, Vietnamese citizens who acquire foreign nationality can maintain Vietnamese nationality, provided they follow the proper procedures.  However, dual nationals should be aware that Vietnam recognizes their Vietnamese citizenship as primary before others.  In such cases, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General may be limited in the consular services we are able to provide. 

Work Authorization: The Government of Vietnam maintains strict laws with respect to foreign workers.  U.S. citizens planning to work in Vietnam should make sure that they are in full compliance with Vietnamese regulations.  Penalties can be severe and include deportation, fines, or detention.

U.S. citizens who also hold Vietnamese citizenship, and who are currently residing in Vietnam, may wish to contact local authorities and/or seek competent legal advice on how local laws may affect their status.   For detailed information on Vietnamese nationality law and other legal issues visit the Embassy of Vietnam website.

Teaching English: We advise those considering accepting an English teaching job in Vietnam to carefully review the terms of the contract regarding working and living conditions and to ask for references from persons familiar with the institution, especially former U.S. citizen employees. 

Hotels: Hotels in Vietnam require you to present your passport (and visas, if issued separately) upon check-in so that your stay can be registered with local police. Every guest in a hotel room must be registered, regardless of their nationality.  If you stay at a private residence, (i.e. at the residence of family or friends) you must comply with registration requirements by visiting the local police station and registering your stay within 24 hours. 

Exports: Vietnamese law prohibits the export of antiques.  However, these laws are vague and unevenly enforced.  Customs authorities may inspect and seize your antiques without compensating you and the determination of what is an "antique" can be arbitrary.  If you purchase non-antique items of value, you should retain receipts and confirmation from shop owners and/or the Ministry of Culture and the Customs Department to prevent seizure when you leave the country.

Imports: Vietnamese authorities have seized documents, audio and video tapes, compact discs, literature, personal letters they deem to be pornographic or political in nature, or intended for religious or political proselytizing.  It is illegal to import weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment and tools (including uniforms), narcotics, drugs, toxic chemicals, pornographic and subversive materials, firecrackers, or children's toys that have "negative effects on personality development, social order, and security."

For up to date information on Vietnam Customs information, please visit the Vietnam Customs website.

Speech: The Government of Vietnam maintains strict control over all forms of political speech, particularly dissent.  U.S. citizens have been detained for political activities (including criticizing the government or its domestic/foreign policies or advocating alternatives to Communist Party rule), possession of political material, and non-sanctioned religious activities (including proselytizing).  Authorities also have detained U.S. citizens for posting messages in blogs or online chatrooms that are political or critical of the government.

Association with Groups: Persons whom the Government of Vietnam perceives to be associated with dissident or political groups may be denied entry to Vietnam, prevented from departing, detained, interrogated, or placed under serveillance. 

U.S. citizen travelers have been summoned by immigration or local security officials for reasons that are unclear or not explicitly related to any suspected or alleged violation of law.  We recommend that U.S. citizens finding themselves in this situation contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General immediately for further information and/or assistance.  

Photography: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in questioning by authorities, fines, or delayed travel.  You should be cautious when traveling near military bases and avoid photography in these areas.

Disputes: The Vietnamese government has occasionally seized the passports and blocked the departure of foreigners involved in commercial disputes.  U.S. citizens whose passports have been seized by Vietnamese authorities should contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.

Civil Procedures:
 Civil procedures in Vietnam, such as marriage, divorce, documenting the birth of a child, and issuance of death certificates, are highly bureaucratic and can be slow.  Please contact the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the Vietnamese Consulate General in San Francisco or Houston concerning documentary requirements for these services.  Enforcement of civil orders is frequently difficult or non-existent.

Women Traveler Information: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

LGBT Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Vietnam.  For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Vietnam, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.  For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.

Accessibility:  Most public places and public transportation are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Side walks, curb ramps, rest rooms, road crossings, and tourist areas are not equipped to assist such individuals.  A 2010 law required construction and major renovations of new government and large public buildings to include access for persons with disabilities, but enforcement is sporadic.  New, modern buildings and facilities in larger urban cities are regularly being built with ramps and accessible entries

Adventure Tourism: Vietnam has a developing adventure tourism industry that includes but is not limited to zip lining and rock climbing.  However, safety standards and training requirements for personnel operating these activities and safety inspections of the equipment may not be equivalent to those required for similar activities in the United States.  We recommend that travelers check the safety records of adventure tourism operators.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Road conditions are poor, and traffic is chaotic; traffic accidents are the leading cause of death, severe injury, and emergency evacuation of foreigners in Vietnam. Long-distance buses and trains do not meet U.S. safety standards. Many Vietnamese drivers and motorbike operators do not adhere to traffic rules, and pose a danger to others. Persons involved in vehicular accidents, especially outside of major cities, cannot expect quick or adequate medical attention. 

Riding motorbikes in Vietnam is dangerous, especially for persons who are not already skilled riders. The vast majority of American citizens killed in vehicular accidents in Vietnam die in motorcycle accidents.  Rental motorbikes may lack safety features, such as functioning signal lights or rear view mirrors, and rental helmets may not may not be equivalent to standards in the United States.

International driving permits and U.S. drivers' licenses are not valid in Vietnam.  Foreigners renting vehicles risk fines, prosecution, and/or imprisonment for driving without a Vietnamese license endorsed for the appropriate vehicle.  Foreigners involved in vehicular accidents may be detained, prevented from leaving Vietnam, or fined by authorities, even before fault is determined. If you wish to drive in Vietnam, contact the Provincial Public Transportation Service of the Vietnamese Department of Communications and Transport to obtain a Vietnamese driver's license.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the country’s national tourist office.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Vietnam, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

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